Pressure mounts to keep sports grounds

PUBLISHED : Monday, 18 July, 1994, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 18 July, 1994, 12:00am

PRESSURE is mounting on the Government to retain at least one of the two military sports grounds being made available by the defence lands agreement for recreational use by the public.

The So Kon Po sports ground near the Hong Kong Stadium and Mission Road sports ground in Kowloon are among 25 military sites to be handed back to the Government before the changeover.

First indications are that the 2.85 hectares at So Kon Po will be retained for recreational use, while the 1.75 hectares at Mission Road will house 256 flats with surrounding open space.

However, a meeting is planned this week between the Government Property Agency (GPA) and the Recreation and Culture Branch when the future of the sites will be discussed.

Mick Aitken, Director of Development Services of the Hong Kong Sports Development Board, said the territory was in desperate need of grass sports pitches.

''Our 1991 to 1995 plan made reference to the fact that the board should lobby for the facilities on the military sites,'' he said.

''There are less than 40 grass pitches in Hong Kong for a population of six million - perhaps the lowest level of provision per capita anywhere in the world.'' He said he would be keen for any land which came on to the market to be used for the community.

''We must not allow the present or future government to lose the little recreational land that we have.'' Brian Coak, Principal Assistant Secretary for Sports Projects, said the Recreation and Culture branch would make a strong case for the land to be made available for sport.

''We are always keen to defend open space for recreation,'' he said, recognising it was a question of striking the right balance between leisure and other land requirements.

Alan Walker, GPA Chief Property Manager, said it was not yet certain when the land would be handed back to the Government.

The south section of Gallipoli Lines near Fanling will today be the first site to be handed back. Perowne Barracks near Tuen Mun will follow suit in January and Stanley Barracks in February.

Gallipoli and Stanley are two of 14 sites to be kept in mothballs and handed over to the People's Liberation Army on July 1, 1997.